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Teaching Budgeting to Your Children

Sep 16, 2008
Budgets and kids are two words that don't seem to go together very well. I don't know how my kids knew it, but it's almost like they could smell whenever I had any extra cash; they would know exactly how much was available and find some need for it. Even though that's probably an exaggeration, any parent, especially one with teenagers, more than likely can relate.

On a more serious note, teaching our children about budgeting is extremely important. Our children look up to us, and they learn from us. They are constantly watching us and soaking up everything we do, even habits that are bad. I wish I could give my kids everything they want; I find it hard to refuse them. But the truth is that it was important for me to teach them the essentials of money managing, budgeting, and patience.

We have become an instant gratification society. When we see something we want, we use our credit cards to buy it right now, thinking that we'll pay for it tomorrow. If we allow our children to have all the new things just as they come on the market, we are sending the message that this is the way life is to be lived, and they may suffer for it as they go out on their own. Once our children leave home, they will take with them the lessons we have taught them. And if we have allowed them to get what they want immediately with no limitations, they will find themselves hopelessly in debt in a short period of time.

I began teaching my oldest daughter the basics of a budget and how to live within one when she entered junior high and started asking for designer label clothing. It didn't take long to realize that trendy items were just that - worn a few times, paid for with lots of hard-earned cash, and discarded when the next trend came along. Since my daughter was getting a monthly allowance, I started to tell her that I would only give her half the money she needed for an item and she would have to pay the rest. Her requests occurred on a much more limited basis when she had to spend some of her own money. Suddenly, some of the items she'd wanted seemed to be less important than they once had been, and the ones actually purchased were more often used.

And last but certainly not least, we talked about debt, savings, budgets, and credit cards before she started college. It is extremely important for kids to understand debt, since many of them will immediately be wooed by the credit card companies as soon as they reach college. Providing our children with the tools they need to start their lives off on the right foot is the best thing we, as parents, can do.
About the Author
Joe Larson, as one of Family Life Credit Services' compassionate Christian financial counseling, has prepared his children with a much needed understanding of financial matters. His hope is that his children will never need non-profit debt counseling or Christian credit relief services. If they do, he and Family Life Credit will be there.
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